(ESPAÑOL) At Rutgers University — a college frequently touted as among the most diverse in the country — the anti-immigrant rhetoric came to a head on Oct. 25 when the phrases “Deport Force Coming,” “Viva La Deportation” and “Build That Wall” were written in chalk along campus sidewalks.
And Tuesday, more than 100 students responded by marching down College Avenue and afterward giving speeches to combat anti-immigrant rhetoric. Chanting “Deport” and “Hillary for Prison,” a handful of pro-Trump students waving American flags crashed the rally. Members of both groups hurled obscenities at each other during the hourlong event.
For Rutgers student Carimer Andujar, the rally was personal.
“There’s a lot of misunderstanding and ignorance surrounding the undocumented immigrant issue,” Andujar said. “We hope to bring light to that.”
As an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic who moved to the U.S. at age 4 to escape domestic abuse, Andujar said she was told by another student that she is undeserving of her spot in the School of Engineering.
The 21-year-old is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — an executive action passed by President Obama in 2012 that allows undocumented immigrants under a certain age to be exempt from deportation.
“I consider America my home and I consider myself to be as American as someone who came here legally,” said Andujar, president of the student group undocuRutgers, which hosted the event in conjunction with the nationwide #IAmAnImmigrant campaign. “Coming here wasn’t a choice of mine. We want people to know that for the most part, especially those who have DACA, it wasn’t any fault of their own. We’re just students like everyone else.”
Multiple colleges across the country have seen similar pro-Trump chalkings, igniting debates about tolerance and free speech. In April, one month before Trump became the presumptive nominee, the words “#StopIslam” were written in chalk on the University of Michigan campus. The school left the messages alone and issued a statement reading, “Where speech is free, it will sometimes wound.”
Rutgers did the same, initially permitting last week’s chalkings as free speech. But a day later, Chancellor Richard L. Edwards denounced the messages, telling the student body, “Just because you have the right to say something doesn’t mean it’s right to say.”
Trump supporter and first-year-student Dylan Marek said the chalkings are protected under the First Amendment.
“College is an open forum to discuss and debate various ideas. Of course it’s free speech,” he said.
Still, Trump’s stance on immigration likely hurt his chances with an estimated 27 million Hispanic voters and encouraged them to show up to the voting booth. During a June 2015 speech, Trump said about Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”